Monday, January 4, 2021

Removing Our Debt

By Adam Faughn

    This time of year, we often run across stories of people doing good deeds for others. They are heart-warming and remind us that there are still plenty of good people in our world.
    One such story happened in Bristol, Tennessee, just a few days ago. Customers at a local Wal-Mart started receiving emails that confused them. The emails were from the store, informing them that their layaway balances stood at "zero." It turns out, a person who only wanted to be identified as a "secret Santa" had gone into the store very early that morning and paid off every cent of all layaway balances at the store, a sum that was less than $5 short of $65,000.
    It took a few customers some convincing to believe it. Still, everything they owed on those items had been wiped clean, and there is no residual debt--no further obligation--due to the generosity of this one who chose to remain anonymous. It is a reminder of the power of generosity, and we can only imagine the freedom they felt in knowing that debt was no longer staring them in the face.
    As wonderful as it would be to have a monetary debt simply wiped clean, that pales in comparison to what Jesus did when He died on the cross. The effect of what our Lord did is more far-reaching in its scope because He died for all people everywhere, and it is more impactful in its duration because His sacrifice is for all time.
    To the faithful who had lived in Old Testament times, Jesus took their debt of sin out of the way. No-tice, though, how Paul describes what Jesus did: "And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross" (Colossians 2:13-14). He canceled the debt!
    And, for those of us who live after the cross, Jesus's blood stands ready to do the same thing. It is why the New Testament pictures baptism as a "washing away" of sins (cf. Acts 22:16) and why those who are Christians have the promise of the blood of Jesus cleansing them of all their sin (1 John 1:7). The debt is taken away because Jesus paid the price.
    Some people struggle with the idea that Jesus could forgive them. They realize the seriousness of what they have done, and they struggle to believe that Jesus has truly and fully relieved them of the debt they owe. But God is faithful, and His promise is true, "that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15). Paul would add that he is the foremost of sinners, which reminds us that Je-sus' salvation is not limited by the "size" of our debt or the seriousness of what we have done. Because of His loving and gracious nature, He will wipe all our sinful debt clean if we will just come to Him on His terms.
    We often sing, "He paid a debt He did not owe; I owed a debt I could not pay." Those simple words ex-press one of the most profound thoughts we could ever consider: that the words are true for every per-son who has ever lived. Anyone has the potential to sing those words because He stands ready to for-give each and every sinful debt! The only question is if we can truthfully sing lyrics found later in that same song: "I now can sing a brand new song, Amazing Grace." Only those who have allowed Jesus to pay off their debt by coming to Him on His terms can rightfully sing those words. Can you?
"He paid that debt at Calvary,
He cleansed my soul and set me free,
I'm glad that Jesus did all my sins erase." (Unknown)

"For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified" (Hebrews 10:14).
- Adam Faughn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: Visit the Faughn Family blog, A Legacy of Faith.

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